FUJI, Japan: Omani sports star Ahmad al Harthy makes a welcome return to race action just a few days from now, with his first ever visit to the legendary Fuji Speedway in Japan for round six of the FIA World Endurance Championship season.
With more than eight weeks having passed since FIA WEC went into a lengthy mid-year break, Al Harthy and the Oman Racing with TF Sport squad are relishing being back in action for the six-hour race this coming Sunday, September 10.
Before then, there will be the usual trio of free practice sessions ahead of qualifying – the latter getting underway on Saturday, September 9. All track time will be a vital experience for Al Harthy on his maiden visit to the spectacular Far East track, situated in the foothills of Mount Fuji, and the two-time GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup Pro-Am Champion can’t wait to get started.
Fuji is renowned as one of global motorsport’s most exciting challenges, and this coming weekend’s FIA WEC encounter around the 4.5-kilometere (2.8-mile) circuit carries great importance too as the penultimate event of Al Harthy’s debut campaign in World Endurance.
Coinciding with his maiden trip to Japan, round six is also where the Omani and team-mates Michael Dinan and Charlie Eastwood are hoping to return to the podium battle in the Oman Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, OQ, Omantel and MHD-ITICS liveried No.25 Aston Martin Vantage GTE.
Having raced to excellent GTE Am podium finishes at Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps in April, third place, and in the crown jewel 24H Le Mans in France in June, a season-best runner-up placing, the squad rocketed into second in the GTE Am Championship points table.
Unfortunately, the most recent event at flat-out Italian track Monza in July was compromised for Oman Racing when a disparity in top speed between the Aston Martin and the rival Porsche and Ferrari entries prevented anything higher than a seventh place – despite some excellent driving.
With hopes the Balance of Performance gradings will be on a par with those Oman Racing had to work with at Spa and Le Mans, Al Harthy is as focused and committed as ever to delivering his absolute best at a true ‘bucket list’ track for any international racing driver. Going into the sixth event of the season, Al Harthy and Oman Racing are third in the respective championship standings.
Ahmad Al Harthy:
“It’s been a long break from action, so I’m more excited than ever to be racing again at the weekend and especially with my first ever visit to Fuji. It’s an incredible track, with so much history in global motorsport, and it really is going to be a privilege to race there in FIA WEC. Even though we’ve not been racing for the past two months, the team has been busy working hard behind the scenes.
“Monza was a disappointment with the speed differential we experienced, especially off the back of two incredible weekends at Spa and Le Mans, so we really are hoping to be able to battle on a level footing again with our main rivals at Fuji. With only two races to go in our first season in FIA WEC, it’s a very important time as we try and push for a top three championship finish.”
The first free practice session at Fuji will take place at 11.00 local time on September 8, with session two following at 15.30. On September 9, the third practice will begin at 10.20 with GTE Am qualifying scheduled to start at 14.40. On September 10, the 6 Hours of Fuji will get underway at 11.00 (06.00 Oman time).
2023 FIA World Endurance Championship GTE Am Driver Standings:
3rd Ahmad al Harthy / Michael Dinan / Charlie Eastwood, 65pts
2023 FIA World Endurance Championship GTE Am Team Standings:
3rd Oman Racing with TF Sport, 65pts